Composition of company boards

Quarterly Bulletin 1988 Q2
Published on 01 June 1988

This article reports the results of a new study of company board structure, updating those published in 1983 and 1985. The main findings are:

  • The trend towards an increasing number of non-executive directors on the boards of large companies has apparently slowed and, indeed, in certain categories been reversed-although the changes may be accounted for in large part by changes in the sample. On this occasion, it was made the aim to circularise all companies in the Times 1,000, with the exception of subsidiaries without boards of their own, rather than, as in 1985, only the smaller sample of companies who were quoted and had featured on the 1983 survey. Of the 549 respondents to the current survey, 57 (11%) had no non-executive directors on their board: in the 1985 survey the equivalent figure was around 5%. However, it remains the case that, for 60% of respondents, the board includes three or more non-executive directors. Similarly, in 60% of cases, non-executive directors constitute over 30% of the board.
  • Slightly less than one quarter of the non-executive directors identified in this study were either former executives of the company or professional advisers to it-an appreciable change from the situation detailed in the 1985 report, where non-executive directors of such a background comprised almost one third of the total.
  • It remains the case that one in three of the largest 250 companies still does not even indicate in its annual report whether directors are executive or non-executive and less than half give a short biographical note on them: this should be remedied as a result of a change in the listing requirement in September 1987.

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